This week I've been listening to Bach's Jesu Joy of Man's Desiring, and I've been listening to what passes for silence around here.
I say “passes for silence” because the silence isn't always very quiet.
There are crickets, trucks, a little song sparrow who has made her home close to ours, various neighborhood construction projects, kids wringing the last fun from summer -- the silence I think I'm getting when I turn off all the appliances and noisemakers in our house is filled up by the noises of the neighborhood.
Those lively noises don't bother me; they have a quality of sharing life about them that is usually pleasing.
And sometimes I've invited Bach into the “silence.” For some reason I've wanted to hear Jesu Joy of Man's Desiring over and over again.
Perhaps it's the good memories associated with that piece of music -- weddings, holidays, quiet mornings with a second cup of coffee. Or it could just be the sheer loveliness of the music. I seem to hear something new each time I listen.
Maybe it's the sense of calm assurance the music seems to hold. This is not intrusive music. It's more like an invitation.
As Kathleen Norris's student said, “Silence reminds me to take my soul with me wherever I go.”
And sometimes, so does music.